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Is there any risk associated with purchasing a domain with a TLD for a politically unstable or authoritarian country?

ex, if I purchase a .ly domain and there is a dramatic political change in Libya, could the new government cancel existing registrations or something along those lines?

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migrated from superuser.com May 3 '11 at 4:35

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Good question. You might also add something I'm also curious about. Supposedly the TLD .co is the new .com. But that's also Columbia. What happend to that? –  Keith May 3 '11 at 4:19
    
.co is actually the one I'm concerned about. There are a ton of good names available, but the stability of their government is questionable. –  Anonymous May 3 '11 at 4:24
    
Asked and answered. –  user5060 May 3 '11 at 4:34

3 Answers 3

up vote 13 down vote accepted

There is definitely the possibility of running into conflict when registering domains in countries other than your own, particularly if those countries have very strict, unstable or conservative governments. For example, read "The .ly domain space to be considered unsafe", an account of how the domain vb.ly, a URL shortener, was taken down by the Libyan government.

Our domain ‘vb.ly’ (which was joint owned by myself and my partner Violet Blue) was deleted by NIC.ly without warning or notice on or around September 23rd 2010. We were subsequently told that our domain has been removed to us being “in clear violation of NIC rules and regulations” relating to “text referring to adult content and offensive imagery from [our] main page”.

The regulations for .ly domains are available at http://nic.ly/regulations.php. Aside from the fact that we contest that any adult content or offensive imagery exists on the site (vb.ly is a url shortener), what is more concerning is that there does not appear to be any regulation(s) written on that page that actually pertains to the violation notice we were given.

In other words we felt that the NIC.ly registry was claiming it has deleted our domain for infringements that do not actually form any part of their regulations.

Furthermore, Libyan domains shorter than 4 characters can no longer be registered by foreigners. For the time being, existing registrations are allowed to be renewed, but it is unknown how long that will last even.

This example just applies to Libya, but illustrates the point that any government could potentially start arbitrarily deleting domains registered under their TLD, without notice. I would take extreme caution registering domains in a country other than your own, particularly if it is politically unstable.

Even registering a domain under the .com TLD isn't necessarily safe though. The US Government has recently been taking down various websites for alleged copyright infringement, despite many of the sites not actually hosting any infringing content.

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[Voted for @nhinkle's answer, but as a slightly different take on this:]
This underlying issue isn't just about "unstable" countries. You should also be careful when buying country TLD domains to check for any requirements that may not be immediately obvious.

In 2004, the organization that manages .ca decided to abruptly and aggressively start enforcing a residency requirement. Technically, the requirement had always been in place, but they'd been lazy about it and people who'd been exploiting that for years suddenly had to scramble to find new domains they could move to, never mind the huge amount of link rot this generated.

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Put aside some risky countries like Libya, I think we can buy .co domains pretty safely as we can buy other major TLDs like .co.uk, .de, .com. .net, etc. Colombia is a stable republic and a growing economy as Brazil and Mexico.

Obviously any government can seize domains for important reasons, that's what US did with about 100 .com domains during the last months.

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